Water woes in Prairie Township

Amanda Amsel
Staff Writer

Most people do not think using a little water to clean your cloths or take a shower is going to strain your bank account, but Prairie Township residents say it is.

At the Prairie Township trustees meeting on Feb. 5, residents spoke about their frustration over high water and sewage bills.

“Prairie Township is being soaked to the bone on water bills,” said John Griffith, a resident and landlord in Prairie Township. “Our water is double the cost of what people pay that get Columbus water.”

Currently, no residents in Prairie Township receive water and sewage service through the city of Columbus. Instead these services come from Franklin County, Aqua America or private wells.

“I am a landlord and a family of three usually has a $100 water bill a month and that is an under estimate,” Griffith said. “I have tenants call me all the time and they are shocked by their bills. I look at the bills and I am shocked too.”

Prairie Township pays the highest rates for water in the entire county, an issue the Prairie Township trustees have been fighting for years.

“In 2012, Franklin County increased the cost by 30 percent and cited it was for infrastructure,” said Steve Kennedy, Prairie Township trustee. “Then in 2014 they increased it again by 3 percent.”

The 3 percent increase will raise an extra $200,000 a year for the county.

“They said they are using $100,000 of that $200,000 to determine how the rate structure should be,” Kennedy said. “We offered to pay the $100,000 for the study if they held off on the rate increase until the results of the study were determined, but they declined.”

Franklin County, along with most of the suburbs in Columbus, purchase their water supply from the city of Columbus and then markup the price to customers to make a profit. Area residents wondered why Prairie Township cannot just have their water come directly from the city of Columbus.

“They service many communities that are similar to us all over the county,” Griffith said. “Why are we different, why are we not being treated fairly?”

In 2013 on average, a family of three that lives in Columbus would pay $229 every three months for water and sewage; in Prairie Township that same family would pay $458 every three months.

“We have to have water, so we are in a tough situation,” Kennedy said. “Historically the only way Columbus will provide water to Prairie Township is if we annex the township, which brings with it a whole new set of issues.”

However, area residents do not want to give up that quickly and encourage leaders of Prairie Township to continue to fight this battle.

“We can’t just give up, we have to at least try to fight this,” Griffith said. “Let’s throw some money at it, hire an expert and at least try. If we still fail at least we know we gave it our all.”

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